“SMART START” What the new person needs to know – Group Exercise

  1. Nobody will be looking at you. You will find that everyone in classes will be focusing on themselves so you don’t need to be self conscious about what you are doing.
  2. It doesn’t matter if you have two left feet. If you are moving you will burn calories even if you go in the wrong direction or use the wrong foot first.
  3. You don’t have to do the whole class first time. If you aren’t sure you can do the whole class straight away speak to the instructor – we will be happy for you to give it a try and leave after a few tracks if that feels right for you – you can keep building up how you long you stay for over a few weeks.  Some exercise programmes have specific plans in place for this (for instance Les Mills have SMART START where you can build up how much of a class you do over a few weeks / classes)
  4. Classes tend to look more intimidating than they really are. If you look in on a class it will look like everyone is super fit and coordinated which can put some people off giving them a go.  In reality everyone works to their own fitness levels, limitations and for their own reasons so there is no set standard of fitness or ability required.
  5. There are always options. You don’t have to jump or run or do any particular exercise that you are not comfortable doing – the instructor will always give you alternatives and they will not make the class any less effective or less of a workout if you take them.
  6. Try to arrive early. Just five or ten minutes will do. That gives you time to get set up and speak to the instructor without rushing or getting stressed – this is especially important if it’s a Group Cycle class or Body Pump class (or any other class which requires equipment) as having the equipment set up right here can make the class a lot more enjoyable.
  7. Tell the instructor you are new. We try and look out for new faces but we don’t always manage to pick out everyone new in a busy class. When we know you are new to the class we can make sure you are set up, know what to expect, check for anything we might need to know to make sure we offer particular options that might help you.
  8. Class goers tend to be friendly. Everyone remembers the first class they went to and you’ll find people will be happy to help you set up or give you a hand during class if you need one and the instructor isn’t close by (still go introduce yourself to us though!). If your nervous just give someone a smile or a hello and they will more than likely start chatting.
  9. Take water. You will need it!
  10. Have fun. My favourite thing about group exercise is that an hour moving to music goes so much quicker than an hour in the gym.  Don’t worry about how good you are at what you are doing, have fun a do what you can and hopefully you’ll find that you soon see results without feeling like exercise is a chore.

What Should I Wear To The Gym?

Simple answer.

Whatever you feel comfortable in.

And that answer is fine if you spend a lot of time training and know what does and doesn’t work for you.  This blog isn’t for you though.

Because that answer isn’t very helpful if you are thinking about starting some form of exercise in the New Year and really don’t know what to wear.  Then it’s just another obstacle to getting started.  I know because years ago when I was overweight and knew that I probably needed to do something not knowing what I should wear (and not feeling comfortable in a ton of lycra) was a good enough excuse to keep putting getting started off.

So here’s some tips to get started:

  • You don’t need to spend lots of new kit. If you want to and can afford it and it will make you feel more confident by all means go splurge in Victoria Secrets.  If you’re starting to dip your toe into the water you don’t need to though – go to Sports Direct or Primark and buy a couple of pairs of bottoms, a couple of tops and a couple of pairs of socks (and if youre female a couple of sports bras).  They don’t need to be any fancy materials to start, as long as you feel comfortable and can move about in them they will work to get you started.  As you get more into training and get to decide what you enjoy doing you can then invest in kit that works for that particular sport in time – right now those expensive compression running tops could be a waste of money if you find out that really you much prefer Zumba.
  • You don’t need super expensive trainers. Same as with clothes. Once you settle on a sport or area of training you may wish to invest in certain shoes (lifting shoes, dance shoes, running shoes, cycle shoes) but to start just buy a pair of trainers that are comfortable.  Think about what you are planning on doing.  If you are going to try classes out a trainer with a spin spot on the sole (a circle type mark on the sole will indicate this) can be useful as it allows you to turn on the spot (which you will do in most dance based classes but is also useful in classes such as Body Combat) – most trainers in the ‘studio’ section on a sports store website will have this.  These shoes will also work well if you plan on venturing into the gym.  If you are going to go running look for a trainer in the running section of the store / website- it doesn’t need to be expensive right now.  For cycling classes you may eventually want to be a cycle shoe you can use cleats with but until you know it’s the exercise for you just pick a trainer with a decent sole (very thin soles will make the class a little painful).
  • You don’t need to wear very fitted clothes. Of course you can if that’s what makes you feel good but don’t feel the pressure to go super skimpy lycra clad if that will make you feel self conscious. People wear all sorts of things to the gym from baggy tops to brightly coloured comic strip style leggings so whatever style will make you feel good is the style to pick and if that means covering up or wearing something loose go for it (just try and make sure it’s not so baggy it impedes safe movement / is something you risk tripping up on!)
  • You don’t need to expose lots of flesh. As above, wear what makes you feel good. Some people like wearing shorts or a crop top to train in, others people prefer to wear leggings and vest tops or long sleeve tops – it has nothing to do with how ‘fit’ people are or what their abs look like – it’s just personal preference as to what makes people feel comfortable whilst training so go as covered or uncovered as you wish.
  • Your basic kit shopping list might look something like this:

 

  • Gym bag (big enough to fit everything in)
  • A sports bra (females) and a comfortable pair of knickers / Boxers
  • Leggings or shorts
  • A comfortable, breathable top (t shirt, vest, crop top) – not something like a jumper because you’ll just be too hot
  • Socks
  • Trainers
  • Hair bobble if you have long hair
  • Water bottle
  • Small towel

Twenty Things All Les Mills Instructors Will Know – Updated and 100% new content (take that 80% new content Advanced Training)

  1. The words Recommended and Required mean different things.
  2. Les Mills have Live Chat- when did that happen!?
  3. You won’t need to do 2 touchpoints a year if you fall out of a tree and break your leg whilst rescuing your cat in December.
  4. Yes, that appears to be the only example of special circumstances anyone of Facebook can imagine.
  5. Other than that you do.
  6. Except maybe you don’t.
  7. It’s complicated.
  8. But Tribal Gatherings do still count as a Touchpoint for all your programmes.
  9. Yes even if you don’t do that programme on the day.
  10. Maybe check on Facebook though just in case?
  11. Talking of Tribal Gatherings – Combat and Step will apparently always clash.
  12. Body Balance will always be on at the crack of dawn.
  13. This is just the law now. Like wearing Reebok is #thankyoureebok
  14. Future instructors will one day know of Aim 1 and Aim 2 in the same way I know of actual physical copies of releases – a mythical thing people more experienced that me reminisce about! I mean imagine waiting for the postman to deliver your DVDs!
  15. We will now do Advanced Training.
  16. Advanced Training is quite pricey though so Black Friday probably definitely needs to happen!
  17. Advanced, Elite – does anyone now know how the hierarchy works?
  18. Nobody knows how Tribe Coaches will be made now – can we cope with this much change in one go?
  19. But the portal seems able to cope with quarterly bookings this time round – what will we talk about on Facebook?
  20. Ahhh Virtual- we will talk about Virtual.

*Note this is intended as a tounge in cheek look at recent developments in the world of the Tribe and not intended to be taken too seriously!

Twenty MORE things that you will know if you are a Les Mills Instructor…

  1. At some point you will have mimed out choreography in a bar. And your non Les Mills friends thought it was H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S. … Honest…
  2. This is where fellow instructor friends come into their own – because they will think it’s hilarious – and join in.
  3. Turning up to events in the same outfit as others is less of a fashion faux pas in Les Mills land compared to the rest of the world – in fact it’s expected.
  4. You will always find us in Nandos pre or post events.
  5. The shame of turning up at Quarterlies in Nike.
  6. You can practice an entire release of Pump choreography with your little finger.
  7. If you want to build the biggest back catalogue possible you should probably buy the oldest release on the portal first. But don’t take my word for it – if you ask Facebook at least twenty people will confirm this – the rest will tell you that release 12 was amazing despite the fact you can only buy as far back as release 72 on the portal thus rendering their advice pointless.
  8. Song lyrics are more controversial than you would think.
  9. The number for the office is 020 7264 0200
  10. Training biceps makes a lot of people suddenly need a wee (weirdly if you’re doing a 45-minute class clean and presses have the same effect).
  11. Body Balance is NOT a nice little stretching class. It hurts your legs… and abs… The people who tell you to go for a nice stretch are sadistic and probably the type of people who can do a headstand in yoga.
  12. A sprawl is a sneaky way of making people do burpees.
  13. You must be able to whoop and clap in tandem in order to pass Body Attack.
  14. You have to be slightly sadistic to actually enjoy GRIT.
  15. Body Combat instructors would be great to have around in the event of a fight as long as that fight was carried out to a eight-count beat with modified martial arts moves.
  16. You probably don’t want to be back late from lunch on a module unless you like push-ups or burpees.
  17. Can someone cover my Body Step class. TIA? I’m not going to say when or where the class is because that would be too easy…
  18. If you’re me you possibly though TIA was some kind of weird greeting like Kia Ora – took me about 6 months to realise….
  19. Same with FOMO…
  20. Touching noses with strangers is a thing.

Twenty things that you will know if you are a Les Mills Instructor

 

  1. You can make reference to Dan, Rachel, Glen, Lisa and Diana to any fellow instructor confident they will know exactly who you are talking about- we have no need for surnames here.
  2. Except for Kylie Gates- for some reason, you will always full name Kylie Gates.
  3. You’d probably quite like to go to New Zealand one day.
  4. You are in at least 500 Facebook groups.
  5. Once joining these groups it is a rule that you are required to use them as a substitute for Google – Does anyone know the number for the office?
  6. You have at least one friend on Facebook you know only through the LM Facebook page.
  7. You probably like spamming Facebook posts with pictures of cats… is it a rule that all LM instructors like cats?
  8. You see the Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme at least once a week.
  9. You can actually hold a debate about the use of dumbbells for at least an hour, even though you don’t really care because essentially a 5kg dumbbell weighs the same as a 5kg plate and is just easier to hold than most plates.
  10. Reading the comments section is often more entertaining than Eastenders.
  11. People who put an F in the comment section haven’t yet realised that you can follow a post by turning on notifications.
  12. You are keeping an eye out for a No Time For Average vest on the Vintage Emporium page.
  13. You probably have an opinion on the best trainers to wear for Body Attack.
  14. You own all the Reebok. Even though you never bought Reebok before you trained.
  15. Body Jammers have to sign a secret agreement that they will wear a checked shirt around their waist on Initial Module Training.
  16. All Combaters secretly wish they’d bring gloves back because gloves make you feel badass.
  17. You will have an opinion on the App.
  18. And the notes.
  19. You will either download the little recommended launch schedule at the start of the year or you will ask for it on Facebook every quarter – even though it’s saved in the File Section.
  20. If you go on Aim 2 and get the chance to pick your preference for which track you teach on Day 1 Sh’bamers, Jammers and Balancers will happily say they aren’t bothered – Pumpers will scratch the eyes out of their fellow Pumpers to teach their preferred track.

How to Guess the Season by your Group Exercise Class

I have two jobs so quite often do not see much day light / weather as I go from gym to office to gym day by day.  If like me you lose track of the seasons worry not – your classes can provide handy hints as to where you are in the year, rendering the need for a calendar unnecessary.

January – Every class will be fully booked with a waiting list of one million. You will spend 50% of the class taking the register and persuading people to share the kit around fairly.  You will not recognise half the room and everyone will be wearing brand new kit bought half price in the sales.  The air con will break but it won’t bother anyone too much because it feels like it might snow,

February – Class numbers start to settle and will be busy apart from one particular day when you will see a dramatic drop in numbers as lots of people go out for hideously overpriced set menu meals instead of coming to the gym.  The day after this happens make sure you pop to Tesco as there will be lots of half priced heart shaped chocolate available for purchase.

March – There will probably be about two inches of snow and your classes will be cancelled as the country grinds to a halt.

April – It starts to get lighter outside so numbers creep up a little, especially around Easter when everyone wants to burn off the 400 easter eggs and 500 units of alcohol they consumed over a 4 day period.

May – The start of the summer months.  You will know when it’s sunny because class numbers will drop dramatically and the air con will break.  If your gym is near a university people will start heading home for the summer.

June – The number of attendees will continue to indicate the quality of the British weather without you ever needing to step outside.

July – Is the air con working? Yes = It’s probably chilly today.  No = We are definitely in the middle of a heat wave.

August – You will still know whether it is raining or sunny outside by how busy your classes are.

September – The summer is over and familiar faces will start to return after months of spending evenings having BBQs and other outdoor activities.  If you are near a university a flurry of fresh faced people will start to arrive – and you will swear they look even younger than last years intake of students (they are not – you are just getting older) .  Every class will be full with a waiting list of one million.  You will spend 50% of the class taking the register and persuading people to share the kit around fairly.  You may be a bit confused at this point that January has come around so quickly then will notice that the air con is broken and it’s far to warm to be January.

October –It’s getting dark now and some people will start to hibernate. Numbers will start to settle.  It’s getting colder so the air con will definietly definietly work.

November – Numbers will continue to remain stable.If you have windows in your studio there will be no natural light – at any point of the day.

December – The ‘Sod it, it’s Christmas’ phenonomen means class sizes will start to half the day you open the first door on your advent calender.  Everyone who does attend classes will mutter things about needing to burn off all the mince pies as they enter and leave the studio.  You will start to see novelty gym kit as the big day gets closer.

World Cup – During the group stages you will know when England are playing because there will be a 50% reduction in attendance.  If England progress the number of people in attendance during any England game will drop dramatically until finally when the semi finals come around you can be relatively confident you will be spending an hour in a studio alone.  We will not even tempt fate by mentioning the possibility of England reaching the final!

What happens at Tribal Gathering … goes on my Blog

My plan was to take a photo diary of what really happens at a Tribal Gathering whilst at the Liverpool Tribal Gathering this Saturday.

Turns out I’m rubbish at taking photos though and then even more rubbish about getting around to using them.

So here is the written version of what a Tribal Gathering / One Live / Les Mills Live/ GFX is really like:

  • You will start the day in your best Reebok, hair washed cleaned and down (maybe straightened), there may be make up- all of this will last approximately one track into your first class.

  • After this it’s endless top changes and baby wipe showers and an increasingly messy pony tail – depending on your mascara choices you may end up resembling Alice Cooper.  The toilets start to resemble your bedroom

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  • Except for some girls who somehow manage to maintain perfect hair and make up even as they are coming out of a GRIT session – these people are aliens
  • There will always be ladies cooking small humans who make exercise look more effortless than you do (respect here!)!

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  • Noone wears Nike… or Adidas
  • In fact 90% of people will be in not only Reebok but the exact same outfit- picking people out of a crowd will be like playing Where’s Reebok Wally
  • Body Pump is the first class of the day… for everyone… it’s the law. Unless you opt for Body Balance first… the Body Balancers are odd and us Pump people don’t really understand them… why would you stretch at the start of the day?????

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  • Everyone has a Polar or Fitbit… otherwise I’m pretty sure your training doesn’t count
  • Everyone will have a bag half the size of them. It will contain every piece of gym kit they own plus enough food to feed a small nation
  • Bumbags and bands on water bottles- say no more

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  • Everyone brings some form of sweets- Jelly babies, Haribo, pic n mix… it’s actually the law to consume sugar on days like this (normally whilst sat on the floor exhausted by life)

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  • 20% of your day will be taken up with eating said sweets plus buying and inhaling coffee
  • We gather in packs for this refueling and create much mess

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  • You spend another 20% of the day running past people you haven’t seen for months whilst yelling greetings
  • With the odd catch up towards the  end of the day when you’re now too tired to dash to classes and accept you might be late for Combat

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  • Another 20% is taken up with selfie taking (often on other people’s phones ahem)

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  • There obviously also has to be a picture on stage after a class so it looks like you just taught it… here’s Lou pretending she just taught Sh’bam….

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  • 10% of your time is spent trying to work out where room 2 is
  • In the rest of your day you may do some classes! Perhaps … just one or two…. Or y’know – 5…
  • Then you will get the required group selfie- otherwise you put all the calories just burnt back on plus 10%

  • If you’re me you will not do a single class you booked onto but end up in random things like Barre because you got over excited and followed someone. You may not even know the person you followed
  • You meet at least one person for the first time even though you’ve been Facebook friends for 3 years
  • You find out your friends have hidden talents during Sh’bam then force them to perform for you whilst you take photos

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  • All of this is done in the knowledge that you will be able to eat the mother of all cheat meals that evening (before the cake in this bag I had an immense hot dog and chips!)! All fitness instructors basically train to eat.  If they tell you they don’t they are lying.

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What (I think) you need to know before you do your ETM / First IMT

I don’t mean how the course is structured, what it will cover or what you need to do to pass.

This isn’t what you need to know.

I mean the important things – the things no one tells you – the things I wish I’d have known the first time I went on each of these!

ETM

  • You will spend approx 6 weeks grapevining. Constantly.
  • To bad music.
  • And by bad music – I mean the type of music I love- I loved the sound track for my ETM. I believe I am in a minority of one on this.
  • You will get DOMS – specifically in your calf’s (blame the above grapevining).
  • On day one you will realise that moving to the beat is one thing. Talking at the same time? Different matter.
  • It’s ok though because on day 2 you’ll start to get the hang of this.
  • You will start putting together your assessment class and decide a knee repeater is the best move ever and design your whole routine around it. It’s going to b the most creative ETM routine EVER. A masterpiece.
  • Then you’ll realise how hard it is to find five progressions for a repeater knee and pick another move. Any move.  Probably the box step.
  • In fact you will have a grapevine and box step in your routine – I’m willing to put money on it.
  • The practical days are long.
  • On day one you will take a packed lunch of spinach and carrot juice. Because fitness instructors are healthy.  And role models.
  • On day two you will take bread and Haribo. Because bread and Haribos will ensure your survival.
  • You will start to consider injecting coffee into your eyeballs as the weeks progress.
  • You will bribe friends into letting you practice on them.
  • They will tell you how amazing you are doing. Even though you’re still shit at this stage.
  • You will cry. At least once.
  • And by once I mean probably at least once a day.
  • On the assessment day you will do your assessment plus take part in several others. Everyone there will be slightly shell shocked with how hard 3 hours of old school aerobics actually is.  I return to your calf’s.  You will probably cry.

IMT (Les Mills)

  • You will spend more time learning your allocated track than you ever spend learning entire releases going forward.
  • You will write a script that Shakespeare would be in awe of ahead of your first presentation.
  • During the first morning you will realise you need to say completely different things to what you’ve scripted and have to start again.
  • You are going to have to introduce yourself and your mind will go completely blank when you try to recall an interesting fact about yourself. Everyone else will do the same and you will think you are the most boring group of people in existence.
  • You will remember the magic powers of Haribo (pic n mix also works well as do Jelly Babies) from ETM and will have come prepared this time.
  • Remember coffee? Yep still vital.
  • You probably signed up to do this course because you thought you were OK at the class right? Wrong – the technique session will convince you otherwise.
  • You will second guess any answer you go to give to any question – What is a layer 1 coaching cue for a squat? What would you say in a class introduction for Body Combat? What is your name? No idea mate.
  • You will feel like you are about to fall asleep around about 3 pm both days – hello Haribos.
  • You want to be perfect. You will panic because you aren’t – you will probably not pass because you definitely don’t move like Lisa O or Rachel.  You do not need to panic about this.  I mean you don’t move like them but you don’t need to.
  • There is an exam on Les Mills on day 2 (kind of)!
  • You are going to have to get used to group selfies. Because these are part of instructor life and if you don’t have a selfie at the end of a course they don’t update your result on the portal so

DVD Submission (Les Mills)

  • Passing the IMT will definitely be the hardest part right? Erm sorry mate but no.
  • Nobody likes filming for certification – but there’s no way round it, not even bribery, I’ve tried!
  • You will practice and script this release to the point you will be able to teach it off the cuff for the rest of your natural life- and probably for several years after you die.
  • Then as soon as the camera is on you will mess up the first rep of the warm up. Even though you can teach this in your sleep.
  • You will film on average 276 times before you are happy with it to submit for your first programme. This number reduces dramatically as the number of programmes you teach grows.
  • Someone will walk in half way through the warm up. They will probably position themselves in front of the camera.
  • It is the law to wear full on Reebok for these filmings. If you wear Combat gear for a Pump DVD or vice versa you will be put on a special watch list and may not pass.
  • The camera will probably stop recording half way through the class- this will be the class that is perfect and you would have definitely submitted on.
  • It may take you several weeks to get a filming you are happy with. It will then take you six months to upload it onto the portal.
  • During this time you will come across Jon from the office. We like Jon.
  • When you pass if you don’t post your certificate on Facebook with an Oscar Style thank you speech they withdraw certification (perhaps).

*Please note some of this “may”be a bit tounge in cheek